JFK’S Ghost

“I’d rather win a Pulitzer Prize than be President of the United States,” John F. Kennedy confided to author Margaret Coit shortly after his election to the Senate in 1953. Kennedy got his wish four years later, when his book Profiles in Courage was awarded the Pulitzer for biography–even though it wasn’t among the finalists for the prize.

The role of Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen in drafting and crafting the main chapters in the book was never acknowledged by Kennedy’s inner circle. And Kennedy was hyper-sensitive until his dying day about rumors that cast doubt on his authorship of Profiles. Sorensen was in many ways Kennedy’s “alter ego,” a man described as Kennedy’s “intellectual blood-bank.” But Jackie Kennedy found the relationship between her husband and his speechwriter to be “creepy.”

Still, Jack Kennedy the writer is an often overlooked part of the Kennedy narrative that helped propel his political career. And when Kennedy’s authorship of Profiles and the legitimacy of his Pulitzer Prize were challenged on Mike Wallace’s national television show by the popular columnist Drew Pearson, JFK’s political future was imperiled.

If the rumors surrounding the authorship of Profiles in Courage had been confirmed as true prior to his ascendance to the Presidency, there might have been no brief and shining moment in America now remembered as Camelot.